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Revision as of 18:26, 19 April 2011 by Flamelab (Talk | contribs) (Alternative installation)

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Nouveau is an open source graphic driver for NVIDIA cards. Do not forget to check out the FAQ if you have any questions, as there is a lot of valuable information there.


Before proceeding, have a look at the FeatureMatrix to see what features are supported for a given architecture, and the list of codenames to determine the card's category.

You could also consult wikipedia for a even more detailed list.

Install the following packages:

# pacman -S xf86-video-nouveau libdrm mesa nouveau-dri

Also make sure you have Xorg properly installed.

Warning: 3D acceleration is still not officially supported, so don't report any bugs unless you are looking to contribute patches.


If you kept the proprietary nvidia driver installed, nouveau is probably not going to work. Either uninstall nvidia or blacklist it by adding the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf

blacklist nvidia

Then nouveau should load fine automatically on next reboot. To test it now, first make sure nvidia is no longer loaded

# rmmod nvidia

Then load nouveau

# modprobe nouveau

And check that it loaded fine by looking at kernel messages

$ dmesg

You can use those scripts if you are switching between open and closed drivers often.


Create the file Template:Filename, and input the following contents:

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Nvidia"
    Driver "nouveau"

This is required to ensure that nouveau driver is loaded. Xorg does not yet automatically load the xf86-video-nouveau driver.


Kernel Mode-Setting (KMS) is required by the Nouveau driver. See the KernelModeSetting page for more information.

Late start

With this choice, KMS will be enabled when the boot process says, "Loading modules." This may cause an undesirable screen flicker as the mode changes.

Remove all "vga=" options from your kernel commandline in Template:Filename. Using other framebuffer drivers (such as uvesafb) will conflict with KMS.

Early start

Warning: If you have troubles with nouveau, and are led to rebuild nouveau-drm several times for testing purpose, do not add nouveau to the initramfs. It is too easy to forget to rebuild the initramfs and it will just make any testing harder. Just use late start. There might be additional problems with initramfs if you need a firmware for the nv50 family

This method will start KMS as early as possible in the boot process, when the initramfs is loaded. Here is how to do this with the official packages:

1) Add "nouveau" to the MODULES array in Template:Filename:

MODULES="nouveau ..."

2) Add "/etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf" to the FILES section in Template:Filename:


3) Re-generate your initcpio:

# mkinitcpio -p <your kernel preset (kernel26, etc.)>

You can also look at the Intel instructions for an early start: Intel Graphics:KMS (Kernel Mode Setting)

Alternative installation [latest Mesa]

You may install the latest -git packages, through AUR. You can use mesa-git which will allow the installation of the latest Mesa.

You can also try installing a newer kernel version, through packages like kernel26-mainline in which the Nouveau DRM code would allow better performance.


Nouveau supports the xrandr extension for modesetting and multiple monitors. See the RandR12 page for tutorials.

Here is a full sample Template:Filename above for running 2 monitors in dual head mode. You may prefer to use a graphical tool to configure monitors like gnome-display-properties (System -> Preferences -> Display).

# the right one
Section "Monitor"
          Identifier   "NEC"
          Option "PreferredMode" "1280x1024_60.00"

# the left one
Section "Monitor"
          Identifier   "FUS"
          Option "PreferredMode" "1280x1024_60.00"
          Option "LeftOf" "NEC"

Section "Device"
    Identifier "nvidia card"
    Driver "nouveau"
    Option  "Monitor-DVI-I-0" "NEC"
    Option  "Monitor-DVI-I-1" "FUS"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "screen1"
    DefaultDepth 24
      SubSection "Display"
       Depth      24
       Virtual 2560 1024
    Device "nvidia card"

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier "layout1"
    Screen "screen1"

Setting console resolution

Use the Template:Package Official tool to adjust console resolution.

You can also pass the resolution to nouveau with the video= kernel line option (see KMS).